You’ll Never Be the You You Can’t Be

Posted on August 4, 2011


. . .wha?

You’re probably thinking “Thanks for that pithy, borderline-tautology, you Canadian jackass.” And now you might be thinking “I wasn’t thinking that! I was thinking ‘What the fuck’s a tautology?’ If I have to reach for a dictionary, it’ll be so I can brain you.”


Levity aside, people interested in bettering their health and physique — most especially the latter, as far as this post goes — really really need to have the subject line above tattooed somewhere very visible. A simple poster might also work fine.

(Aside: the featured image above was chosen out of 21 other similar images with other athletes simply because I think Aimee Mullins is freakin’ hot. That she can rock a pair of beautifully-carved wooden leg-boots like nobody’s business is a bonus. Just wanted to put that out there. I also respect everything she’s done for the so-called disabled. “So-called” because she could kick my abled ass up and down any track, anytime.)

I’m not sure if there’s a specific term for this — and I don’t really give a rat’s ass if there is — but we all have basal body types. We can make the most of our base, but we can’t fundamentally deviate from it. A stonecarver wouldn’t look at two pieces of different types and sizes of stone and attempt to carve identical statues out of them.

Quite simply, Danny DeVito can’t transform into Ryan Reynolds.

I personally believe that we all have our own optimal physique, the form we each would have given ideal and optimal opportunity to actualize that genetic and physical potential. Under those circumstances, our bodies would express themselves optimally. . . .

. . .but my optimal is not yours and yours isn’t mine. For instance, I don’t think I’d ever be healthy at 230 lb. Ever. I’m 5’11” and tend toward leanness. When I was younger, my mom used to tell me “Patrick, you’re like my brother: You’re so skinny you have elbows like spiders’ kneecaps.” (Anyone else heard that expression, by the way?) On me, 230 lb would pretty much have to be fat. Or so much muscle I would be incapable of locomotion. I also can’t be a healthy 130. To be honest, I’m pretty close to my ideal body configuration at 166 lb and ~12% body fat, though I actually want to get that back up to somewhere between 170 and 175 by dropping body fat to 9% or 10%. But whatever. The point is that someone else’s “perfect” physique might clock in at 225 lb. Or 105 lb!

All this might seem really obvious, but we all look up to certain physiques as being ideal and highly desirable. . . to attempt to emulate, not to have outercourse* with. The truth we must each face and come to terms with is that while it’s great to have something specific to look up to, we need to understand we each will look different, even were we to all eat the exact same thing and work out and move in the exact same ways over the exact same period of time.

This is not to say that we can’t really push ourselves in one direction and not another. Check out the image below (as well as the featured image above). It could be argued that the body configurations those athletes have is due completely to diet and training regimen. They’re built differently because they’ve trained hard to excel at particular and vastly different things. True! But do you think the woman on the far left (below) would be well suited to the high jump, like the woman next to her is? What about wrestling, like the guy at the far right? Okay, granted that I’d pay to see that, but I think my point carries.

A gamut of "optimal"

You can only be the best you. Don’t try to be someone else or feel you’ve fallen short because you aren’t built (or lean or heavy or tall or ad nauseum) like someone else is. The only person who can go from zero to [vastly altered] hero is Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. And if Captain America is reading my blog, well. . . da-amn! I win the internets. (Actually, I guess the Hulk can, too, but he’s old news. And he’s green, so fuck ‘im.)

* The technical word for “dry-humping.” Let’s be classy here, people.